The state of Virginia can be split up into five separate ecological regions with environments ranging from coastline and wetlands to lowlands to dramatic hills and mountains. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources lists over a hundred species of mammal in the state, but that’s just scratching the surface of wildlife that includes extensive marine ecosystems and over 200 endemic bird species.
Much of Virginia’s wildlife is similar to adjoining states like North Carolina and Tennessee. White-tail deer, black bears, squirrels, and other rodents are all integral parts of these ecosystems, and both golden eagles and woodpeckers patrol the skies. Virginia’s waters are also a delight for fishing enthusiasts. Pike, perch, trout, and bass are just a few of the fish found in abundance in Virginia’s lakes and rivers.
The Official Animal of Virginia
Virginia doesn’t technically have a state animal — but it does have a state bird, a state fish, a state insect, a state bat, and a state dog. The state dog — the American foxhound — can reasonably be substituted as the state animal. The state bird is the cardinal, while the state bat is the native Virginia Big-Eared bat. The Eastern Garter snake is the state snake, while the state insect is the Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.
Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Virginia
Virginia is home to a whopping 41 state parks and 22 national parks with thousands of campsites available — and while that means there are plenty of places to see nature, it can be a little bit overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.
The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain is home to stretches of wild Atlantic coastline as well as expansive swamps and estuaries. The wildlife here includes red foxes, river otters, and multiple species of shrew, mice, and other rodents.
Further inland is the Central Appalachian Forest. The heavily wooded area encompasses the heavily wooded Blue Ridge Mountains which then extend all the way to Pennsylvania. Many of the same species from the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain call this region home. Black bears are the apex predator here, but they share the land with rabbits, foxes, moose, and white-tail deer.
Five major rivers dump into the bay that feeds the Chesapeake Bay Lowlands region, and that makes it a similar ecosystem to the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. Bird species like bald eagles and ospreys tend to dominate here, as the marshlands leave them with plenty of marine prey for scavenging. The hundreds of species of fish here make it ideal for fishing.
The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains are known as the Piedmont Region, and the environment here is rich with species shared with both the swamp and the mountains. White-tail deer are a common sight, but you’ll also find coyote, woodpeckers, and marine wildlife that includes both catfish and sunfish.
The South Atlantic Coastal Plain stretches out to Florida and South Carolina and is predominantly marsh and swamp. Multiple rivers run through this area, and the ecosystem is primarily composed of wading birds, reptiles, and amphibians in addition to the rich fish population.
Popular places to see animals in each ecoregion include:
- Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
- Jackson M. Abbott Wetland Refuge
- Shenandoah Wilderness
- Conway Robinson State Forest
- Kiptopeke State Park
- First Landing State Park
- Sky Meadows State Park
- Prince William Forest Park
- Assateague Island National Seashore
- Colonial National Historical Park
The Most Dangerous Animals In Virginia Today
The vast and unspoiled wilderness of Virginia has created massive playgrounds where fierce predators can roam unhindered. The black bear is common throughout the state. That said, there are predatory cats in the form of both pumas and bobcats.
Of Virginia’s roughly 30 snake species, only three are venomous. The copperhead, cottonmouth, and timber rattlesnake all produce venom that could exacerbate a bite. The copperhead is the least venomous of the three, and bites are rarely fatal.
Virginia is home to over two dozen endangered animals. Some of the rarest include:
- Gray bat – A species that’s entire population is restricted to only 11 caves.
- Humpback whale – Known for their beautiful and mesmerizing songs, they’re still recovering from exploitation by the whaling industry.
- West Indian manatee – One of the rarest sea mammals, it’s remained on the U.S. Endangered Species list since the 1970s.
- Red-cockaded woodpecker – A species that ranks among the rarest of wild woodpeckers, this species has seen devastation thanks to the loss of the long-leaf pine.
Zoos in Virginia
Virginia zoos include:
Virginian Animals List
Animals in Virginia FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What animals are found in VA?
The wildlife in Virginia is diverse, but common predators include black bears, red and gray foxes, and puma. Other mammalian wildlife that lives there includes raccoons, skunks, opossums, and rodents like squirrels. White-tail deer are also common.
What is the most dangerous animal in Virginia?
While it might seem weird, dogs are actually the most dangerous wildlife in Virginia for humans. The state is home to predators that include bears, pumas, and rattlesnakes — but you’re more likely to bite from a dog bite than any of them since they tend to avoid humans.
Does Virginia have platypus?
The strange mammals known as platypuses are exclusive to eastern Australia. You’re highly unlikely to find this weird wildlife in Virginia unless you’re visiting a zoo.
Are there badgers in Virginia?
Badgers are not native to Virginia. If you happen to see one, you’re looking at a weird aberration.